Peace concert in Malakal attracts huge crowd, galvanizes audience
UPPER NILE- In Malakal, peace begins with some 1,500 revellers from all walks of life uniting for a flamboyant concert sprinkled with healthy doses of updates on the implementation of South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement, meant to culminate with free, fair, and credible elections in just over a year.
“We are hoping for just and peaceful elections all and I’m excited to witness what the future holds for our country. The information we received about what is going on was a real eye-opener for everyone to know what rights we have as citizens,” said Salwa Joseph, who had made her way to event for exactly that reason.
As proud Nuers, Dinkas, Komas, Mabans and Shilluks performed stirring traditional dances and the peacekeeping mission’s in-house band belted out crowd-pleasing tunes, dancing women, men and youth may occasionally have lost their focus on all things of a political nature.
Community leader Nyua Arop was, however, at hand on stage to remind the swaying masses of the critical times that lie ahead, not least the successful drafting of a permanent constitution, needed for elections to take place.
“Our peace, political process and constitution must be as inclusive as the crowd here to enjoy this occasion. Without the voices of women, for example, we can’t achieve stability in our state,” she boomed.
At an event organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) together with the Upper Nile State government, Governor James Odhok Oyai’s presence was a given.
“Our cooperation with the UN is a real boon, and today is a great opportunity to celebrate it together,” he greeted the audience. “Rest assured that we are all working hard, every day, to nurture peace and development.”
To further advance the understanding of this vital partnership, those present were given a lowdown of the peacekeeping mission’s mandate in the country, and a chance to ask any questions they wanted for clarifications.
“I am grateful for this colourful happening where we have been able to prove that we, despite belonging to different tribes, are united and can have fun together,” said Christina Gwang, one of the dancers showcasing her skills. “We are tired of war, it is our turn to enjoy peace now,” she added.
With peace in the country seemingly being a tad elusive, one would be forgiven for asking where it all begins. Fortunately, Alfred Orono Orono, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Malakal, had the answer, addressing the joyous sea of humans from the stage.
“Each one of us is responsible for peace in South Sudan. Now I want all of you to stand up, touch your chest and repeat after me: ‘Peace begins with me, peace is within me’”.
And so they did.